Digital media’s no-good, very-bad winter continues as Vice Media is undergoing layoffs of its own.
In an effort to reduce costs, Vice Media is restructuring its business that will focus on core brands and departments: long-form video production, news, digital media, TV and Virtue, according to a memo sent by Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc. All told, Vice Media expects to lay off hundreds of employees, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. The layoffs could span 250 employees and 10 percent of Vice Media’s workforce, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which was first to report the news.
“Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks,” said Dubuc, in a memo to staff, which is copied in full below. “To this end, we’ve had to make hard but necessary operating decisions. Starting today, the next phase of our plan begins as we reorganize our global workforce. Unfortunately, this means we will have to say goodbye to some of our VICE colleagues.”
News of Vice Media’s layoffs began circulating earlier this week. In her note, Dubuc said the shift “centralizes many roles and eliminates overlap,” and that it will impact all departments at the company including TV, editorial, finance and TV. According to sources, the departments that will be most impacted by the layoffs include various international divisions and bureaus as well as some “non-core” editorial verticals, which will be reduced in size, folded into the main Vice brand or eliminated entirely.
Vice’s digital operations will see a heavy impact, according to sources. “It’s gonna be a bloodbath. Globally,” said one source.
The layoffs come at a precarious time for digital publishing. Last week, BuzzFeed, Verizon Media Group (the former Oath) and Gannett combined to lay off more than 1,000 employees.
Vice Media’s revenues were reportedly between $600 million and $650 million in 2018. The company has raised more than $1.4 billion. Its most recent investor, TPG, put $450 million into Vice, which valued the company at $5.7 billion. More recently, investor Disney wrote down $157 million of its investment in the company.
We’ll update this post as we learn more.
Here is CEO Nancy Dubuc’s memo:
We’ve all been working hard over the past several months to ensure that VICE the brand, the community, and the cultural force continues to grow to achieve our creative and business goals and we are already seeing progress.
This past weekend, VICE Studios’ film The Report made headlines with one of the largest sales in Sundance history, and our must-watch documentary Fyre on Netflix continues to garner rave reviews and attention. The launch of VICE Live later this month will bring together our vision of One VICE, creatively capitalizing on the incredible multiplatform value we can unlock for audiences and advertisers. We are having partnership conversations around digital extensions of Live with several social platforms. This is on top of our already impressive momentum, ending the year with double-digit traffic increases in views, watch time and subscribers across the digital business.
Virtue is seen as a go-to shop for brand strategy and creative excellence among the largest of blue chip brands, having attracted 20 major new clients in 2018. And our News team continues their run, with more Emmy nominations and wins this year than any other nightly show as well as a stellar delivery of the El Chapo trial on its Spotify podcast.
Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks. We will make VICE the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future. To this end, we’ve had to make hard but necessary operating decisions. Starting today, the next phase of our plan begins as we reorganize our global workforce. Unfortunately, this means we will have to say goodbye to some of our VICE colleagues.
In this strategic restructure, some departments will get smaller while others will expand. Rather than organize VICE by country, we are creating a new operating structure around global lines of business—Studios, News, Digital, TV and Virtue. Support functions such as Sales, Legal, Communications, Marketing, IT, HR, Business Development and Brand Strategy will report into Brooklyn, or a designated central hub.
This shift centralizes many roles and eliminates overlap. It touches everyone at VICE— from finance to TV and editorial to IT — all departments at every level will see some impact. While this makes us a stronger business going forward, it is difficult for all of us to go through and we do not make these decisions lightly. We need to operate more nimbly, focusing our energies and investments on core strengths— on our terms, in our own way.
Our leadership and HR business partners will meet with individuals affected by this reorganization today in the U.S., U.K. and Mexico. Over the coming weeks, we will be finalizing plans with other regions following local regulatory policies. There are a significant number of open positions coming online to help us expand where needed and we encourage you to discuss those with your HR business partner. Some areas of expected growth include Sales, Studios, VICE News digital and Virtue in many markets.
We are fortunate that VICE’s early diversification has made us more resilient to a shifting industry. VICE isn’t a logo—it’s people. Everyone who walks through our doors gives a part of themselves to do something different. You make sure we don’t conform. You bring your ideas and reckon with the weird and often messed up world around us. You dare.
Saying thank you can never express the depths of gratitude I have for the contributions you have made. Change is always hard, but this is VICE and I’m confident that we will all come together to make this a transition bound by respect, support and compassion.
This post has been updated to clarify that some “non-core” editorial verticals will be heavily impacted by Vice’s layoffs, according to sources. It’s not clear yet which specific verticals will face the most cuts.